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Kelly Clarkson rocks the Fox Theatre again

Kelly Clarkson gave her sold-out fans at the Fox Theatre a lovely sampling of her past decade's output, plus choice covers of songs by Carrie Underwood, Florence + the Machine and Whitney Houston. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Kelly Clarkson gave her sold-out fans at the Fox Theatre a lovely sampling of her past decade's output, plus choice covers of songs by Carrie Underwood, Florence + the Machine and Whitney Houston. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Nearly a decade ago, “American Idol” crowned a sweet Texas crooner named Kelly Clarkson as its first winner.

A magical moment like that can never be replicated, kicking off a program that defined the first decade of this century on TV. Clarkson herself has taken the crown, bronzed it in her own special way and has never looked back.

Five albums into an extraordinary career, Clarkson came to the Fabulous Fox Theatre with more than 11 million copies sold and far more hits than she could fit into a 90-minute, 19-song concert. That, my friends, is a good problem to have.

Despite her star status, she sounded genuinely thankful when she acknowledged a full room of adoring fans. She didn’t pretend she could dance. (Her stage moves remain comically limited but altogether natural e.g. her signature bounce when she hits a chorus, arm lifted in the air.) She joked about her dexterity compared to one of her bandmates doing yoga that morning. She laughed how she funnels her pain into songs like “Never Again” and “Because of You” during the encore.

Here’s a photo gallery from our photographer who was a bit closer to the stage than I was.

And my colleague Melissa Ruggieri wrote this review.

The most surprising moment came when she brought season one finalist Tamyra Gray on stage for a duet of Whitney Houston’s “Exhale (Shoop Shoop)” Watch it below:

Gray had been coincidentally working at a local 14th Street Playhouse play “Our Time Has Come.” She had a scheduled day off on the night of Clarkson’s concert. I had informed her of the concert a week ago and she immediately planned to go. Obviously, she did and I didn’t realize she might even end up on stage. (She also Tweeted earlier this week that she had dropped out of the play. I’m not sure what happened there.)

Clarkson, compared to many celebrities of her ilk, hasn’t been embroiled in many tabloid imbroglios but she opened the show with headlines critiquing her weight, her sexual orientation, her sales, et. al. before opening with “Dark Side.”

Nobody’s picture perfect
But we’re worth it

Indeed, Clarkson is well worth it. Her vocals sounded a bit rough early on. She even skipped the climactic high notes on her second and third songs of the night, “Behind These Hazel Eyes” and “Since U Been Gone.” But over time, her voice got stronger. She was saving her vocal bullets for later, hitting all her notes on “My Life Would Suck Without You” and her current hit  “Stronger.”

Her most bracing performances were her ballads (”Already Gone,” “Because of You”) and a heart-rending “Heavy In Your Arms,” a cover of a Florence + the Machine song. I get the impressions she wishes she could do more songs like that herself. She also did a lovely cover of Carrie Underwood’s “I Know You Won’t.”

The staging was simple. She has never been big on gimmicks. Her one attempt at something a bit unusual backfired: for her No. 1 duet “Don’t You Wanna Stay” with Jason Aldean, she had a 30-foot tall version of him telecast onto a curtain singing his portion of the duet. The problem. The audio and video were not synced. After the first chorus, the tech folks simply made Aldean’s image disappear.

I’ve seen her five other times live to date and she has never disappointed: the “Idols Live” tour in 2002, her first visit to the Fox Theatre in 2005, Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in 2007 (all blog entries from that year are gone so I can’t link to it), the Loft (for a Q100 Christmas concert) in 2009, Centennial Olympic Park in 2011 (for a Coca Cola 125th anniversary celebration). I only missed her concert with Clay Aiken back in 2004 at Gwinnett Center.

Even as “Idol” struggles in its middle age in the face of copycats, Clarkson is an original whose career illuminates on her own terms.

Here are some other photos I took:

Kelly & Carrie Fan, a regular on this blog, and I met up after the concert was over in the lobby. She had sixth row seats. I was a bit further back.

Kelly & Carrie Fan, a regular on this blog, and I met up after the concert was over in the lobby. She had sixth-row seats. I was a bit further back in row V.

kelly clarkson with others

Kelly shot

Kelly spotlight

More kelly

Join my Facebook fan page and Twitter.

By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk

70 comments Add your comment

The Po-Po

February 24th, 2012
9:39 am

Sam-A

February 24th, 2012
9:41 am

Love the pic of RoHo and K&CF!!! You guys looks like you’re having a great time.

The Po-Po

February 24th, 2012
9:41 am

Dang…Kelly done got thick! check out dem thighs! The brothahs like!

Woodpappy

February 24th, 2012
9:55 am

Great to see her still going strong. Thanks for the info Rodney.

kelly&carriefan

February 24th, 2012
9:59 am

YAY, Kelly! I have to say, this was one of the more energetic shows of hers I’ve seen. I think at this point in her touring, she takes her time warming up before hitting those incredible high notes. From where I was, she sounded fantastic! I was very pleased with the setlist, but like Rodney mentioned there were many other songs she could have covered.

The Houses of Hope inspired song, You Still Won’t Know What It’s Like was a really touching moment, especially for those of us who know the background of the project. (Check it out at http://housesofhopeafrica.com/ ). If you want to hear an amazing acoustic version, youtube: “A Night For Hope.” There was not a dry eye after that one.

I did get the chance to speak with one of Kelly friends (the girl who sang with Matt Nathanson on Run) after the show, and she mentioned that the Atlanta crowd was the best one they’ve seen so far. It sure felt like the Fox was having a great time. I sure was…evidenced by the fact that I sound like Scotty McCreery this morning!

PS. OMG, Rodney! I had no idea that pic was going to end up on the blog! HA. In all fairness, this is me post-show, after hooting, hollering, clapping, dancing, and jumping up and down for 90 minutes! :)

Greg

February 24th, 2012
10:02 am

Poor Jason can’t catch a break in this duet. First his mic died at the Grammy’s, now the video of him won’t sync up.

Rickster

February 24th, 2012
10:05 am

“a sweet Texas crooner?”

Sweet: yes
Texas: yup

Crooner?: not in the traditional sense of a Tony Bennett, Michael Buble’ (who I just don’t get) or even Landau Eugene Murphy Jr.

Kelly’s a ROCKER!! :-)

JTesla

February 24th, 2012
10:25 am

Great review Rodney, thanks. And thanks for the pictures ;)

Deirdre

February 24th, 2012
10:26 am

I was hoping Kelly and Tamyra would get together! I loved it when she was in North Carolina and invited Clay to duet with her.

Rodney, great review, great pictures(especially the one of you and k&cf!) Thank you!

JTesla

February 24th, 2012
10:28 am

For the record: I really like Kelly’s hair like that.

kelly&carriefan

February 24th, 2012
10:37 am

D, btw, I have Rodney that hug you asked I deliver. As far as Kelly and Tamyra, they got together a few hours before the show yesterday. But it was definitely a treat to see Tamyra singing!

Pitchy

February 24th, 2012
10:58 am

k&cf is famous!!!

Pitchy

February 24th, 2012
10:59 am

@PoPo – would you believe Kelly slimmed down a little. She was much bigger a few months ago.

Rickster

February 24th, 2012
11:02 am

Looks like Tamyra has gotten over her case of the blues from the earlier thread. :-)

[...] more Kelly Clarkson rocks the Fox Theatre again at Radio & TV Talk… /* * * CONFIGURATION VARIABLES: EDIT BEFORE PASTING INTO YOUR [...]

Rickster

February 24th, 2012
12:25 pm

“Clarkson herself has taken the crown, bronzed it in her own special way and has never looked back.”

Does that mean she took the crown and made it her own?

Pitchy

February 24th, 2012
12:31 pm

Ummmm, wouldn’t you think so, Rickster? That made me laugh.

Rickster

February 24th, 2012
12:36 pm

Definitely, Pitchy!

And how many wardrobe changes for Kelly? I count at least three.

kelly&carriefan

February 24th, 2012
12:37 pm

Pitchy, :lol: hardly.

Rickster, funny guy. Guess she went to the Paula Abdul School of Crown Molding?

Rickster

February 24th, 2012
12:39 pm

Jordan Sparks talks about getting to work with Whitney Houston in their soon-to-be released movie:

http://www.eonline.com/news/jordin_sparks_working_with_whitney/296513

Pitchy

February 24th, 2012
12:42 pm

I am looking forward to seeing Sparkle. I know it will not do justice to the original. Some movies should not be made over. Heck, has the Blob been remade yet??? I’m cracking myself up because that movie scared the heebee jeebies out of me back then.

Deirdre

February 24th, 2012
12:43 pm

k&cf…thanks! I’m so happy that you got to enjoy Kelly’s concert last night.

Lurker

February 24th, 2012
1:16 pm

K&cf, great to see you…. I know you are a fan of hers, so glad you enjoyed the concert. Pretty smile too…..

Barney

February 24th, 2012
1:43 pm

Hey! It’s Goober City in here!

JTesla

February 24th, 2012
1:45 pm

Quick question: Rodney were you the only person in the crowd wearing a tie?

JTesla

February 24th, 2012
1:46 pm

Thanks for becoming one of the goobers Barney.

Sam-A

February 24th, 2012
2:27 pm

Somebody pass the chocolate covered peanuts!

kelly&carriefan

February 24th, 2012
2:36 pm

D and Lurker, well, thanks! It really was awesome.

JT, I can vouch for Rodney’s sharp suit last night…the only others wearing ties were the ushers. ;)

Jenny

February 24th, 2012
3:54 pm

Hi y’all… Trying to catch up! K&CF, glad the concert was fun! From the end of the last thread… I agree with Annie that this year’s group is a bit less interesting than some other years. (Voice-wise, anyway. There are some fun personalities…. but talent-wise, I’m not so sure this is going to be one of the best years.) Have we seen some good singers? Yes, definitely. But have we seen a star? I don’t think so. Not yet, anyway. (Only my opinion! :-) )

I sure hope someone will surprise us, though! It’s so much more fun when there’s someone you just can’t wait to watch each week…

Highlander, DITTO on Chase, DeAndre, and Skylar. And :lol: :lol: at your boy band comment…. SO true! Boy bands, ugh, never liked them… hmmm, maybe that’s contributing to my feelings about this year’s group so far.

Mercedes, as far as whether you should watch last night’s show – it’s worth at least skipping through. Look at Hollie Cavanaugh and Shannon Magrane – they were both good. And watch Jermaine, in case he comes back. He was so sweet and had genuinely sorrowful tears (as opposed to drama-filled tears.) Like Pitchy said, I think he just really couldn’t help it and the tears were welling in spite of himself. His crying didn’t bother me like Adam’s did.

Along that line, Sam-A, I had to laugh at what you said… “it’s not like the baby is dying!” You read my mind, as I kept wondering if maybe that WAS the case with Adam and I’d missed it? I still don’t quite get all of his dramatic sobbing…. :roll:

G, I am 100% with your formula for voting (vote for who sounds and performs the best.) I just wish more of America agreed with us…. :-(

Pitchy, I too am looking forward to seeing Sparkle. (I don’t think I saw the original? I didn’t realize it was a remake.)

JTesla

February 24th, 2012
4:17 pm

Vote for who sounds and performs best? Nah in these early rounds I need to vote for the eye candy because America never votes through the really good looking females.

Rodney Ho

February 24th, 2012
4:19 pm

@JTesla. Who’s the best eye candy of the 12 women? Hallie Day and Baylie Brown are on my tops list on that front.

Jenny

February 24th, 2012
4:33 pm

JT, I think it is long past time for a girl to finally win again, so please, vote away!!!

Sam-A

February 24th, 2012
4:44 pm

Amen – tired of Idol’s unabashed slant toward pushing male winners.

And, a lovely weekend everyone.

Mercedes: when you get caught up with “Downton Abbey” let me know what you think about all the events of the last 2 weeks episodes.

JTesla

February 24th, 2012
4:52 pm

Baylie Brown, and Hallie Day are the two clear choices (in that order for me). After that, and removing the three that are under 18, we are left with maybe Hollie Cavanagh, and Haley Johnsen. Too many H names, which may mean I vote for Baylie. I’ll be honest, none are really my “type”, but I need something to get me through the first far too long week.

Rickster

February 24th, 2012
5:05 pm

Time for me to leave Goober CIty! :-)

Have a great evening and weekend, everyone!

Deirdre

February 24th, 2012
5:37 pm

I don’t think Idol has been “pushing” male winners. Almost every year they talk about the terrific slate of female singers. But the girls just haven’t lived up to Kelly or Carrie and I think that’s part of the problem. Then there’s the possibility that the demographic of the voters is slanting the outcome.

To me, the group of male singers this year has impressed me more than the group of females. But we all know how we can be fooled by the prelims once the top 12 sing-offs begin.

Mercedes S.

February 24th, 2012
6:09 pm

Thanks for idol tip, Jenny, watched the whole darn thing. Early faves from last night are Holly – sounds like Helen Shapiro – and Eben.

Sam – will watch another DA tonight. Hoping for Spanish Flu to cart off the saintly Lavinia.

K&cf, great pic!

Mercedes S.

February 24th, 2012
6:15 pm

And PS – “Wanderlust” is easily the worst movie I have seen so far this year. Or any year. Jennifer Anniston is again playing Jennifer Anniston in a rom-com with no romance and very little comedy.

JTesla

February 24th, 2012
7:54 pm

WAIT!!! What was I thinking?

Haley Johnsen is from Beaverton Oregon (which is closer to my hometown than Portland) that’s my girl right there! Whew, she was on my list too.

Maud Parler

February 25th, 2012
5:03 am

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Deirdre

February 25th, 2012
9:34 am

Branch Loveless

February 25th, 2012
3:26 pm

Weighing in a bit late, but….

Frickin’ awesome would be my description of the Kelly concert. From my vantage point in row AA on the left side she was in great voice and looked lovely as hell! Great energy for sure and, I believe, the first concert I’ve ever attended that everyone stood up from the first notes to the last!

Still on a high from the show a couple days later; really glad I was able to attend. Gotta say, for me, the best concert I’ve seen that didn’t involve Patty Loveless (my personal fave all-time). Just wish it had lasted three or four hours; nope I’m not greedy.

Mercedes S.

February 25th, 2012
5:38 pm

Not tempted to check the ADC story..at all.

Bryce Resnikoff

February 26th, 2012
8:35 am

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Mercedes S.

February 26th, 2012
9:01 am

Bryce, not sure what you’re trying to say.

Sam-A, now done with “Downton”. Phew – about time, I say, for that perfect, snow-flurried proposal.

Highlander

February 26th, 2012
9:04 am

A friend of ours (who admittedly is a big Kelly fan) was at the Fox Thursday night and reported that she LOVED the show. She couldn’t stop gushing about it. …The word “amazing” was repeated over and over!

Back to Idol, I believe one of the problems the girls are having is a lack of “vocal” diversity. They all sound pretty much the same to me, meaning they all (well, most all) sing (or for some, try to) with a Soul/R&B vibe. Probably because that’s so prevalent for female singers on the charts right now. (Maybe I should amend that to a “Beyonce/Rihanna” vibe, huh?!)

But it also makes it harder for any one of them to stand out.

Highlander

February 26th, 2012
9:11 am

I also believe we’d have a better idea of who the top singers are if we heard more of the final individual performances for ourselves instead of the whole time-wasting “green mile walk” crap. The producers need to understand that (after 10 years) this ain’t the viewing public’s first rodeo!

Quit going back to all the same-o, same-o cliches. Those wells are running a bit dry. Freshen things up a bit.

Branch Loveless

February 26th, 2012
3:16 pm

C’mon, Highlander. You want fresh? What about Steven Tyler stripping to his skivvies and diving into the water??? ;-)

JTesla

February 26th, 2012
7:46 pm

After looking at the ratings, and how this season is going in general, Ryan would be smart to call it and not re-sign for Idol.

Rickster

February 27th, 2012
8:49 am

I was just looking at the captions…

Kelly & Carrie Fan, a regular on this blog, and I met up after the concert was over in the lobby.

If the concert was in the lobby… why was everyone in the theater? :-)